A Terribly Strange Bed part 12
ere long all thought was again suspended by the sight of the mur-derous canopy
moving once more. After it had remained on the bed— as nearly as I could guess—about
ten minutes, it began to move up again. The villains who worked it from above
evidently believed that their purpose was now accomplished. Slowly and
silently, as it had descended, that horrible bed-top rose toward it former
place. When it reached the upper extremities of the four posts, it reached the
ceiling too. Neither hole nor screw could be seen; the bed became in appearance
an ordinary bed again—the canopy an ordinary canopy—even to the most suspicious
for the first time, I was able to move—to rise from my knees— to dress myself
in my upper clothing—and to consider of how I should escape. If I betrayed by
the smallest noise that the attempt to suffocate me had failed, I was certain
to be murdered. Had I made any noise already? I listened intently, looking
toward the door.
Escaping through the house
No footsteps in the passage outside—no sound of a tread, light or heavy, in the
room above—absolute silence everywhere. Besides locking and bolting my door, I
had moved an old wooden chest against it, which I had found under the bed. To
remove this chest (my blood ran cold as I thought of what its contents might
be!) without making some disturbance was impossible; and, moreover, to think of
escaping through the house, now barred up for the night, was sheer insanity.
Only one chance was left me—the window. I stole to it on tiptoe.
bedroom was on the first floor, above an entresol, and looked into the back
street. I raised my hand to open the window, knowing that on that action hung,
by the merest hair-breadth, my chance of safety. They keep vigilant watch in a
House of Murder. If any part of the frame cracked, if the hinge creaked, I was
a lost man! It must have occupied me at least five minutes, reckoning by
time—five hours reckoning by suspense—to open that window.
succeeded in doing it silently —in doing it with all the dexterity of a
house-breaker—and then looked down into the street. To leap the distance
beneath me would be almost certain destruction! Next, I looked round at the
sides of the house. Down the left side ran a thick water-pipe—it passed close
by the outer edge of the window. The moment I saw the pipe, I knew I was saved.
My breath came and went freely for the first time since I had seen the canopy
of the bed moving down upon me!